Irma kills at least 9, 2 storms upgraded to hurricane status
Powerful Hurricane Irma cut a swathe of deadly destruction as it roared through the Caribbean on Sept. 6, as two other tropical storms, Jose in the Atlantic Ocean and Katia in the Gulf of Mexico, were upgraded to hurricane status.
Hurricane Irma, a Category Five storm is currently battering the Caribbean and threatening Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Cuba and south Florida.
One of the most powerful Atlantic storms on record, it claimed at least nine lives and turned the tropical islands of Barbuda and St Martin into mountains of rubble.
The hurricane churned westward off the northern coast of Puerto Rico early yesterday on a potential collision course with south Florida where at-risk areas were evacuated.
St Martin suffered the full fury of the storm, with rescuers on the French side of the island saying at least eight people had died there and another 21 were injured.
With some 95 percent of homes destroyed on the French side of the island, the other half belongs to The Netherlands, a delegation of troops, rescuers and medics arrived from France.
Guadeloupe prefect Eric Maire called the situation in St Martin "dramatic," saying the island was without drinking water or electricity, and warning the death toll was almost certain to rise.
To the southeast, Barbuda, part of the twin island nation of Antigua and Barbuda, suffered "absolute devastation" with 95 percent of properties damaged, and up to 30 percent demolished, according to Prime Minister Gaston Browne.
"Barbuda now is literally rubble," Browne said.
One person is known to have died on the island of 1,600 residents, apparently a child whose family was trying to get to safer ground.
And on the island of Barbados, a 16-year-old professional surfer named Zander Venezia died while trying to ride a monster wave generated by the storm, the World Surf League said.
As Hurricane Irma tore through the Caribbean, a tropical storm in the Atlantic and another in the Gulf of Mexico were upgraded to hurricane status on Sept. 6, the National Hurricane Center said.
Hurricane Jose was1,675 kilometers east of the Lesser Antilles in the Atlantic and packing maximum sustained winds of 120 kilometers per hour, the NHC said.
It was considered a Category One hurricane on the five-level Saffir-Simpson scale.
The NHC said that tropical storm Katia in the southwestern Gulf of Mexico had also become a Category One hurricane.
It said a hurricane watch was in effect for the coast of the Mexican state of Veracruz where heavy rainfall is expected.
Irma was packing maximum sustained winds of up to 295 kilometers per hour as it followed a projected path that would see it hit the northern edges of the Dominican Republic and Haiti yesterday, continuing past eastern Cuba before veering north towards Florida.